Abu Dhabi: Indian President Pratibha Patil called for reactivating the India-UAE Joint Business Council and increasing the frequency of exchange of delegations between apex chambers of commerce and industry in both countries.

She was addressing a business meeting organised by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) at the Emirates Palace in the capital on Tuesday.

Enhanced presence

Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, the senior officials of the ADCCI and prominent businessmen from the UAE and India attended the meeting.

The president said the recent opening of the Shaikh Khalifa Special Economic Zone in Abu Dhabi will serve to enhance the Indian economic presence in Abu Dhabi.

She highlighted the large infrastructure projects being undertaken in Abu Dhabi in the transport, communication and energy sectors and called for joint ventures between the Abu Dhabi and Indian companies not only in those projects but in foreign countries too.

The UAE has become a gateway for India's trade with the rest of the region, the president said.

Lubna lauds growth

Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, said that the India-UAE trade exchange over the past 10 years has multiplied 13 times, with non-oil sectors slowly gaining a predominant share.
"Our non-oil trade in fact rose by 57 per cent to $20.4 billion (Dh74.9 billion) for the first half of 2010 over the same period last year. "We are poised to increase our total exchange to as much as $ 32.7 billion this year," she said.

"India is the largest foreign commercial partner of the UAE, with trade between our nations reaching a record $ 29.4 billion, or 16.4 per cent of the UAE's total international trade in 2009", the minister said.

"India's investments in to the UAE have reached $ 2.5 billion or 7 per cent of our total inbound FDI (Foreign Direct Investments) in 2007, and we encourage our Indian partners to continue taking advantage of our economic and political stability as well as our numerous business incentives," Shaikha Lubna said.

The UAE, on the other hand, is currently the top Middle Eastern and 10th global investor into India, she said. "Last year, a group of our major companies invested $ 1.5 billion in India, accounting for an estimated 1.4 per cent of its total foreign direct investments (FOI) for 2009," the minister said.